The Golden State Warriors are the 2016-17 NBA Champions, and LeBron James has solidified himself as the greatest basketball player of all time.
SIMPLY THE FACTS
Before everyone freaks out, can we just take a moment and relish at the fact that LeBron averaged a triple double in the NBA Finals. A TRIPLE DOUBLE. Not just a Russell Westbrook 42% shooting triple double, but a stat line of 33.6/12/10 on 56.4% shooting type of triple double. Of course, this was the first time in the history of the league that someone has been able to average a triple double in the Finals. This was not the first time Lebron dominated the Warriors. In last year’s Finals, James led both teams in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals. In case you are wondering what LeBron did in the entire 2016-17 playoffs, it was only 32.8/9.1/7.8 on 56.5% shooting. That’s it though.
Russell Westbrook will most likely win the 2016-17 NBA MVP, but LeBron James may have put up the best season of all time. In the history of the league, only three players have averaged 25/8/8 on 50% shooting or better: Oscar Robertson, during his age 24 season, did this in a league where the was no three point shot. Michael Jordan, at age 25, shot 53.8% but a lousy 27.6% from deep. LeBron James, at age 32, in his 14th year, was able to shoot 54.8% from the field and over 36% from deep. To be considered the GOAT, one must be consistently excellent, and, of course, a winner. Keep in mind that MJ, who is considered the GOAT, had only won three titles by age 32, the same amount LeBron currently has. LeBron, who lead the league in minutes, is not showing any signs of slowing down anytime soon. Speaking of the great Michael Jordan, it is time to educate the old heads who actually think Jordan is a better basketball player than the King from Akron.
MJ VS. lEBRON
I understand that Michael is 6-0 in the Finals, but did we forget that he was unable to reach the Finals in his other nine years? This includes being eliminated three times in the first round. Yes, when Jordan was 22, he was swept by the Boston Celtics in the first round. Lebron at 22? Just carrying Drew Gooden, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Larry Hughes and Eric Snow into the NBA Finals.
Through his first 14 years, Lebron has reached the Finals eight times, including seven in a row. For someone to be considered the GOAT, they would of course need to perform well in the playoffs. In his 12 playoff years, James has lead all members in scoring five times, assists on four separate occasions, and even lead in rebounds during the 2011-12 playoffs. Jordan has never lead all members in rebounds or assists during the playoffs. It must have been nice to have Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman do all of the dirty work. Playing alongside Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen must have been cool too.
When looking at career numbers, LeBron will surpass Jordan in all of them, besides steals. With already more rebounds and assists than Michael, LeBron also has a better field goal percentage, as well as a better 3-point than His Airness. As far as playoff stats, LeBron is now ahead of Jordan in all five major categories (Points, Rebounds, Blocks, Assists, Steals).
Most would say that Jordan is a better scorer, but if it was all about scoring, than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar would be more relevant in the argument for greatest of all time. On top of that, Jordan averaged three more points than LeBron, but did this on three more shots a game. To give your team the best chance in basketball, you must be able to score, pass to others, and rebound the ball so that your team gains possession. Anyone with a basic knowledge of basketball can tell you that. So how many times have these two had seasons averaging at least 25 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists per game? LeBron has done this 13 times, while Jordan was only able to accomplish this three times.
As far as value goes, it is hard to argue that there is another athlete on this planet that is more valuable than LeBron James. The year before joining the Heat, LeBron led Cleveland to a 61-win season. As soon as he took his talents to South Beach, the Cavs turned into a 19-win team. In LeBron’s last season with Miami, he led them to 54 wins and a Finals appearance. When he left, the Heat managed to only win 37 games. When Jordan decided to pursue baseball, the Bulls, without Air Jordan, won 55 games and made it into the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Another thing to mention is the fact that LeBron is a freight train at 6’9” and can guard any position at any time. Michael Jordan, at 6’6’’, could not do this. LeBron is also clearly the better athlete due to his size, strength and speed over Jordan.
The numbers do not lie. King James is a more efficient shooter, both field goal and 3-point, than Jordan. LeBron is a better passer, playmaker and rebounder than Jordan. His physical gifts also make him a more versatile defender. If he shot more, he would be a better scorer than Jordan, but he is too busy making other players around him better.
With all the stats to prove, the only thing that Jordan fans can say is “6-0 in the Finals.” Keep in mind that in the six finals appearances, Jordan faced only 9 Hall of Famers. At this point in LeBron’s career, he has faced 26 and counting. On worse teams and against better competition, LeBron has managed to become the best basketball player to step foot on this Earth, and he is not done. With three rings, and coming off his best season, there is no telling what the future will hold for “The Chosen One”.
Finals: How was the competition?
Jordan vs. Hall of Famers in the Finals
Magic Johnson, James Worthy
Karl Malone(2x), John Stockton (2x)
Lebron vs. Hall of Famers in the Finals*
*all on pace to be Hall of Famers
Tim Duncan(3x), Tony Parker (3x), Manu Ginobli (3x), Kawhi Leonard (2x)
Dirk Nowitski, Jason Kidd
Kevin Durant(2x), James Harden, Russell Westbrook
Stephen Curry(3x), Klay Thompson(3x), Draymond Green (3x)
SIDE NOTE: KD
Let me just start out by saying I am happy for Kevin Durant. His incredible averages of 35.2/8.4/5.4 on 58.8% from the field made the Finals MVP selection a no brainer. I am not even mad at him for joining a 73-win team. Personally, I am a fan of player mobility and anytime you have a chance for a better job in life, you should take it. I am mad at the fact that he joined the team that, a year before, he blew a 3-1 lead to in the Western Conference Finals. For kids watching, KD set a horrible precedent. KD is telling the youth that it is fine to just join up with someone that you cannot beat. Bird would never join the Lakers. Challenges are what makes competition great. Kevin Durant is a winner, but will forever be a cupcake.
Featured image by complex.com
Featured image by complex.com
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